Some further thoughts on assumptions; I continue to blame Mike. And of course Trent Lott, who has provoked a furor of discussion which could be useful but will no doubt turn to partisan bickering — oh wait, it already has.
Trent Lott is, in my eyes, most likely a racist. While his most recent statement could be construed as flattery to an old man and nothing more, we have other evidence. We have similar statements he’s made in the past, one of them off the record (if it’s confirmed) and thus unlikely to have been scripted to win over the crowd. We have his appearance at rallies to raise funds for all-white private schools. We have his voting record. We have a preponderance of evidence.
On the other hand, we have George Bush. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University. There’s no doubt that Bob Jones University has a racist administration; they forbid interracial dating. Does that make Bush racist? Nope. It means, at the worst, that he’s willing to seek the support of racists in order to get elected. You can decide for yourself how bad that is. I think it’s pretty bad, but it’s not as bad as /being/ a racist. There are, in this world, shades of grey.
Now, you can get two kinds of bad spin out of this, interestingly. One way to misrepresent this is to accuse Bush of being a racist. That’s unfair, I think. Another way to misrepresent this is to claim that I’m calling Bush a racist when I’m just saying he’s willing to associate with racist individuals to get votes. That’s also unfair.
Both pretty effective debate tactics, though.